Wednesday, April 27, 2011


What ever one may think or say about Pakistan as a viable nation, credit must go where it is due. This is with reference to the restrictions put in place in 1997 regarding hosting feasts on occasions like marriage which many observers believe has benefited the country in terms of reducing unnecessary wastage of food. The restriction is basically on the menu that explicitly compels the hosts to confine to very few items. In contrast a poor country like India has millions of millionaires who spend billions of rupees to organize parties and feasts with more than two dozen courses. While one should have no quarrel regarding the right of individuals to spend their money as they deem fit, it is another matter that in most cases more than 50% of the food served ends up in the public garbage dumps. Of course there are scavenging destitute population and animals and birds benefiting from this waste. It is funny to note that GOI is now concerned about these lavish feasts and want to consider imposing some restrictions. Whether such concerns will translate into any concrete action remains to be seen

"Indians planning lavish wedding parties may face pressure to slim down their menus, as the government considers curbing celebrations that highlight a growing gulf between rich and poor. Food Minister K.V. Thomas said April 18 that a panel will consider limiting the number of guests who can be invited to weddings and other social events, as well as the dishes they can be served. Neighboring Pakistan restricts such revelers to one plate of food, he said, something India could emulate. While India's government is reacting after soaring food prices dented the popularity of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leading to nationwide protests, wedding planners and policy experts said the proposals would be impossible to enforce and fail to address the root cause of food insecurity in India, home to 42 percent of the world's undernourished children, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute. "It's absolutely ridiculous, it's a reactionary, poorly thought through, populist measure which I don't think is implementable," said Ashish Abrol, a former Deutsche Bank AG wealth manager and employee of International Business Machines Corp., who started the wedding planning firm Big Indian Wedding last year. Consumer-price inflation at 9 percent is the highest in the Group of 20 nations after Argentina and Russia. Thomas says up to 30 percent of food is wasted at weddings in India. About 40 percent of India's fruit and vegetables rot before they can be sold because of a lack of cold storage facilities and poor transport infrastructure, according to government figures".

How far the government will be able to enforce such restrictions is a matter of conjecture. Years ago there was the Guest Control Order which was promulgated to save food when there was food scarcity in the country and the experience in making it work was not encouraging. Austerity must be a national culture and if every one makes necessary sacrifice wastage automatically gets eliminated from the society at large. If there are exceptions for VIPs and other influential people to the food control order, naturally ordinary citizen will not be enthused about the whole idea. India is considered the capital of "black money" and it is known that construction of super luxury homes and throwing lavish dinners are the major routes for spending such unaccounted wealth. Such restrictive orders should not be another route for the babus to make money through bribes for closing their eyes to blatant violations by these super rich people!


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